Mission: Impossible and Eurocentric Stunts

George Blaustein in the European Review of Books:

Before pondering the locations of action cinema (and thus the vectors of our own nostalgias and aspirations), let us briefly rehearse the mystique of Tom Cruise’s action-hero Method-acting, and its storied relationship to cinema as art and industry.

The plot of Dead Reckoning (Part One) revolves around a fancy cruciform key that looks both antique and futuristic. It has two parts; when they’re locked fancily together, four jewel-like lights on the key’s bow glow, giving the key a Benjaminian aura of Unreproduzierbarkeit. Our protagonists have one part of the key; they need the other part. The key, we’re told, unlocks the as-yet-unrevealed device that will allow humanity to control or destroy an ominous artificial intelligence.

The AI — self-aware, rogue, malevolent — is Dead Reckoning (Part One)’s disembodied, inscrutably brilliant villain.

More here.